Mary's family came to the office this week to clean out Mary's desk.
Even though all of her stuff is gone now, I still feel a sense of shock and surprise when I walk past her cubicle. It still seems weird--and so wrong--not to see her there.
It made me think of this Wordsworth sonnet. Wordsworth wrote the poem about his daughter Catharine, who had died years before. He turns to share something with her then realizes, with double shock, that she isn't there anymore.
Surprised by joy--impatient as the Wind
I turned to share the transport--Oh! with whom
But Thee, deep buried in the silent tomb,
That spot which no vicissitude can find?
Love, faithful love, recalled thee to my mind--
But how could I forget thee? Through what power,
Even for the least division of an hour,
Have I been so beguiled as to be blind
To my most grievous loss?--That thought's return
Was the worst pang that sorrow ever bore,
Save one, one only, when I stood forlorn,
Knowing my heart's best treasure was no more;
That neither present time, nor years unborn
Could to my sight that heavenly face restore.
The circumstances are different for me, of course--Mary was a co-worker and friend, not a daughter--but I understand the sentiment better, perhaps, than before. It's hard not to feel the shock, then the sorrow, all over again, when I walk past Mary's empty chair.